Indie hit proves black movies can do well

LOS ANGELES • As indie hit Sorry To Bother You prepares to make its international debut, director Boots Riley (above) took to Twitter to debunk the persistent Hollywood myth that movies with black themes and casts do not do well overseas.

"Even tho we'r outperforming a gang of other movies, distributors r claiming 'Black movies' dont do well internationally and r treating it as such," Riley wrote. "There'r films that bombed here, that theyr distributing. Let em know wsup (sic)."

Later in the Twitter thread, Riley said he was not referring specifically to Annapurna Pictures, the production company that is distributing his film.

Annapurna has plans to release the movie overseas, according to someone familiar with those plans, but they have not been made public yet.

With smaller, independent movies, distributors sometimes wait to see how domestic releases are received before announcing the international rollout.

Riley did not respond to a request for comment.

Owned by Oracle heiress Megan Ellison, Annapurna bought the worldwide rights to the movie at the Sundance Film Festival this year.

The studio typically works with international partners for foreign distribution of its films, including Zero Dark Thirty (2012) and American Hustle (2013).

In Sorry To Bother You, actor Lakeith Stanfield plays a black telemarketer who unlocks a key to professional success that leads him into a disturbing universe.

The film opened in 16 American theatres on July 6 to rave reviews. It is now playing across the United States and has earned US$14.9 million (S$20.3 million) at the box office.

Movies with black actors and themes are having a resurgence, buoyed by hits like Black Panther (2018), Get Out (2017) and Hidden Figures (2016), all of which exceeded box-office expectations at home and abroad.

Next up is BlacKkKlansman, a film directed by Spike Lee and produced by Get Out director Jordan Peele. It tells the true story of two Colorado cops - one black and one Jewish - who try to infiltrate the local chapter of the KKK. It will be distributed by Focus Features and is slated for release in the US tomorrow.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2018, with the headline 'Indie hit proves black movies can do well'. Subscribe